Friday, January 20, 2012

Strap - taking over

When Jock was alive, Strap was a part of two.  These two border collies, though a few years apart, were the best of mates, and lived on our 20 acre property, 'fiercely' guarding their domain.
Then we moved.  We left our 20 acres of space, and moved to a wonderful home in a lush tropical area on about 1 acre.  We had both dogs transported up here by air, and watched them settle in, filled with curiosity, a bit of exhaustion from their ordeal, and general feelings of curiosity as they roamed around discovering their new surroundings.  Jock then started to struggle, and noticing a change in his behaviour, we contacted a vet in our local community, as Jock was such a particular dog he would not let us put him in a vehicle and try to take him to a vet.  He always physically just refused to cooperate.

Unfortunately for us, he died that night, just before we had arranged for the vet to come here to see him.  So that left Strap in charge!

After Jock's death, Strap was a bit lost for a few days--but happy to be with us, and as he watched us with Jock towards the end, and saw that he was dead, he still perhaps wondered what would happen next.  We buried Jock, and Strap watched on from a respectable distance, and then we started our life together, without Jock.

Strap soon settled into a more somewhat spoiled routine, as he was now the only dog.  He was getting baths more regularly, and spent a lot of time laying in the covered patio right at the back door, so that he could keep an eye on us, (and of course lay under the patio's ceiling fans away from the sun and the heat -- we didn't raise a dumb dog!!)

As time now has gone by, Strap has wielded his way more and more into our lives, and now gets to come inside to the family room and lay down at our feet for awhile so that he can get rubbed and grab a bit more attention.  Jock and Strap used to be outside dogs only, until the day in our other home when I incorrectly taught Jock how to open the back swinging screen door.  Then they would come inside at their pleasure, and lay in the back tiled hallway, to escape the heat.

Now, as soon as Strap knows that he has permission, he will run through the back sliding screen door as Chris opens it, and wait expectantly at my seat on the leather couch, so that he can get his rub-down and attention.  If I am already sitting there, he will run in and head straight over to me, then slide down on the floor in front of me, and lay on his right side, waiting for his attention rubs.  I usually rub him under neck and then he grabs my arm with his paw and rolls over onto his back, and waits for me to rub his chest and tummy.  He has me worked out!  The only thing is, he is a long haired border collie and is shedding his heavier coat in this warmer climate, so leaves a lot of hair behind in his wake.  He'll then sit up, and look me straight in the face, and if I give the signal, he will jump up and put his two paws straight into my lap as though hugging me, and look straight into my face, as I rub his ears, and share a cuddle.  If Chris is also there, he will then jump down, and move over to him, sitting at Chris' feet, and wait for his cuddles from him, and when he feels that he is loved up enough, he will then just move away, and head straight outside through the opened screen door, and settle in for a nap.

When we lived on our other property, he would get very vigorous with his barking as either the horses in the back paddock would wander past, or the young kids on their bush motor bikes would ride past.  He would bark loudly and tell them all to 'Clear off, now!  We don't want your noise or your silly horse smell anywhere near here!'  And then he would chase them behind our property's fence line, as he kept his eye on their 'doings'.

Since we have moved here though, he has been more laid back, and hasn't taken on that guarding role as much.  We often have trucks arriving here, making deliveries, and he doesn't even move from his position of 'guard' at the back family room door.  He's not the barking alarm he used to be.  Until that is, an early morning, about 3 days ago.

Our neighbours were having some sort of heavy machinery work done at their place, and while I couldn't see the equipment through the trees and shrubs, I could hear it clanging and chugging away.  Well, Strap was not impressed, and ran over to the sound, and up the hill for a better view.  He still wasn't happy, so set about telling them about his disturbed state.  He barked very angrily and aggressively at the machinery, ordering it to go away -NOW!  As he kept insisting on issuing his angry barks in their direction, I went outside to investigate.  I called him to me, and while he hated being called away from 'His job', he regretfully came, rumbling under his breath. 

"Strappy!", I said calmly, "It's OK.  It's only the neighbours doing something- it's fine!  It's early! But it's fine!  Go lay down and relax - don't worry!"

Well, Strap was having none of that - he looked at me uncertainly as if to say - 'Don't you know that I am guarding?  This is dog's business--now you go inside and let me get back to work!'

Knowing I wasn't going to win this round, I went to the open sliding screen door,as I headed back into the house, and beckoned Strap to come inside with me.  Somewhat reluctantly he did, and we went through our rubbing and cuddling ritual before I let him go outside again. I reassured him that there was no danger outside, and that he could relax.  During our cuddle he stared me in the eyes just to check that I was telling the truth, then jumped down and went outside....he chipped a few more barks of disgust in the neighbours general direction, and then gave a disgusted sniff and grunt and laid down in his guard position at the back door.  He was soon asleep content in the knowledge that he was still the King of his property, and beware any intruders who invade his space!  I think he was smiling as he slept. 

No comments: